Devotion and Piety of English Women, 1480-1620

Devotion and Piety of English Women, 1480-1620

Regalado, Sophie Maia

Master of Arts, McMaster University, September (1997)


With the Reformation the female centres of worship, such as convents and beguine communities, disappeared in England~ consequently focus was placed upon the household as an integral centre for the expression of early modem English women’s devotion and piety. Primary sources categorize the manifestation of Tudor and early Stuart women’s piety into public and private faces. Devotional, conduct, commemorative literature and their representations stress the inherent necessity of being pious. Employing examples of virtuous contemporary women and biblical figures, writers and clergy emphasised the necessary qualities for imitation.

Diaries, autobiographical journals and godly correspondence underlined the virtues lauded in the prescriptive literature. Recording their godly regimes, women such as Lady Margaret Hoby stressed the inseparability between domestic household responsibilities and acts of piety. A regime of piety furnished women with a legitimate means of expressing their religiosity. While personal meditations provided and individualised rendering o f women’s expressions of spirituality.

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